Three Way Color Corrector in After Effects

After Effects has been dinged over the years for lacking a classic “three-way” color correction tool, like the one found in Discreet products and just about every Non Linear Editor out there. But could it be that AE has actually had one for years, sans the sexy color-wheel UI?

In the Adjust category, there’s an oft-neglected effect called Color Balance. You’ve probably neglected it because its UI is just an unfriendly pile of sliders.

But if you tie those sliders to some Color Control effects using expressions, you can create a visual way to drive Color Balance’s quite decent color correction engine.

Download 3WayCB_01.ffx (4kb .zip file, requires After Effects 6.5)

You create your correction by dialing colors into the Master, Shadow, Midtone and Highlight swatches. If you select the “B” (of HSB) mode in the Adobe Color Picker, you are presented with a sort of “unwrapped” color wheel. If you’re on a Mac, you can elect to use the Apple color picker, which actually sports a color wheel. Either way, you can ignore the brightness of your color selection. The strength of your tinting will come from the saturation of the color.

If you want a solution that doesn't involve a modal dialog, use PowerPicker instead of the Color Control effects. Then you can pick colors right in the Effects Control Window, and get realtime feedback as you scrub your selection.

It ain’t the Discreet Color Corrector, but it ain’t half bad either. Give it a whirl and let us know what you think!